The Dallas Cowboys will have a very tough road ahead if they intend to be the first NFL team to play in a Super Bowl at their own stadium in Super Bowl 45 next year. I believe they are very hungry and can accomplish the task but it will be a difficult one. They have to play one of the hardest schedules according to opponent’s winning percentages. Their opponent’s winning percentage is .543. The NFC East plays the AFC South and the NFC North. All told, the Cowboys will play six teams who made the playoffs this season- Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Arizona, Green Bay, Minnesota, and New Orleans. Of course they still play Philly, Washington, and New York twice who arguably makes up the toughest division in the NFL. The schedule makers really put the Cowboys behind the eight ball since the Cowboys only get to play the New Orleans Saints at home and the rest on the road. Who the hell are these schedule makers? Do they hate the Cowboys?
If I was Jerry Jones I would file a complaint with the league about why do the Cowboys have to play all these playoff teams on the road? The logical formula would be to split these games up evenly 3 home and 3 away.
There is a silver lining though as the Cowboys have Chicago, Jacksonville, Detroit, New Orleans, and Tennessee at home. If you go by how these teams played with the exception of the Saints, you could say those are 5 “gimmes”. But having said that the old adage of on any given Sunday any team can beat any team in the league. It is far too soon to predict what I think the Cowboys record will be, but I expect them to be the NFC’s representative in the 2011 NFC Championship game. It will be a long offseason and so much can happen from now until September. Here are the records of all of the Cowboys’ opponents from this season and will comment on each game.
New Orleans Saints 13-3- if the Saints win the Super Bowl the Cowboys will be more motivated to beat them next year.
Chicago Bears 7-9- Jay Cutler took his lumps learning a new offensive system in his first year and if they want to improve need to draft or sign a few free agent wide receivers. Brian Urlacher’s return to the defense will be vital. After he was lost early in the season the defense was very porous.
Detroit Lions 2-14- Rookie Quarterback Matt Stafford showed signs this season but still has some learning to do. Lions won only 2 games in 2008 and 2009. Talk about rebuilding.
Jacksonville Jaguars 7-9 – really struggled on defense switching from the 4-3 alignment to the 3-4. David Garrard is not a franchise quarterback but the have a fire hydrant for a running back with Maurice Jones-Drew.
Tennessee Titans 8-8- perhaps if Vince Young took over earlier in the season for Kerry Collins the Titans could have made the playoffs. The Titans were the best team in the AFC in 2008 and have most of the same players. They are one of the teams to watch out for next year.
Green Bay Packers 11-5-Cowboys played one of their worst games this season losing to the Packers in Lambeau field 7-17. It’s already tough to play there and with QB Aaron Rodgers looking really good this could be a pivotal game for home field advantage for the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings 12-4- the lost to the Saints at the Superdome in the NFC Championship game. Their hopes to return to the playoffs really hinge on wether Brett Favre returns for another season. The Cowboys will have revenge on their minds thinking how Favre and Vikings ran up the score in the waning seconds in the divisional playoff game this year.
Arizona Cardinals 10-6- Kurt Warner’s recent retirement is a huge setback for this team. Matt Leinart has proven he is close to being a big bust. They should regress next season.
Houston Texans 9-7- this is another team to watch next season. Quarterback Matt Schaub has proven he is a very good player. Every season people expect team to finally make it over the hump into the playoffs. They always fold for 3 or 4 games during the season but the defense has grown immensely the past few years. It will be a playoff atmosphere as the Texans hate being portrayed as the Cowboys’ little brother in Texas. It will be a dogfight.
Indianapolis Colts- 14-2- they were the best team in the league this year. There’s no doubt they will be expected to repeat next year too. Like with the Saints, if the Colts win the Super Bowl, the Cowboys will be extra motivated to play them. In 2007 the Cowboys spoiled the Colts’ bid for a perfect season and will have confidence when they play.
I did not include the Eagles, Redskins, and Giants since they are all familiar foes. 2010 will be difficult and rewarding.